Cruz Vacates 135-Pound Title After Groin Tear; New Champ Barao Faces Faber at UFC 169

By Tristen Critchfield Jan 6, 2014
A groin tear has forced Dominick Cruz to vacate the bantamweight title. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com



Dominick Cruz isn’t getting any luckier.

The reigning UFC bantamweight champion has suffered a groin tear and will not be able to defend his title against interim 135-pound king Renan Barao at UFC 169. As a result, Cruz will vacate the belt and Barao will become the promotion’s official bantamweight champion. The Brazilian will now defend the strap against Urijah Faber in the new UFC 169 main event.

UFC President Dana White announced the news Monday on SportsCenter. UFC 169 takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Feb. 1 and also includes a featherweight title showdown pitting Jose Aldo against Ricardo Lamas.

Cruz has not competed since Oct. 1, 2011, when he took a five-round verdict over Demetrious Johnson in a 135-pound title bout at UFC Live 6. A torn ACL, two separate surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation process kept the Alliance MMA product on the shelf for the next two-plus years. White did not give a timetable for Cruz’s return from his latest setback.

Faber, meanwhile, has been on a tear since losing a decision to Barao in an interim title tilt at UFC 149. “The California Kid” went 4-0 in 2013, besting Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara and Michael McDonald. The former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight titlist has lost his last five title bouts.

Barao successfully defended the interim crown twice last year, submitting McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7 before scoring a second-round technical knockout against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165. The 26-year-old Nova Uniao standout is unbeaten in his last 32 professional appearances, including eight fights under the Zuffa banner.

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